BLOG: Ashes

Back when I was busy having babies, I didn’t imagine my life would become dominated by football through the primary school years. I now have two equally football-obsessed sons, one a Liverpool fan and one an Arsenal fan (don’t ask), both active players for their local club with dreams of world-class glory as the next Ronaldo or Messi (I’ll settle for one of them making it 😉); sibling rivalry in our house is intense.

However, one thing they can agree upon, when tickets to Anfield or the Emirates would require re-mortgaging the family home, is going to see their hometown Reading play on a Saturday afternoon at the Madjeski Stadium. So we rocked up at the first game of this new season: Reading vs Sheffield Wednesday.

‘Ashes’ by Embrace was adopted as the official Reading FC song in 2014 and we hear it belted out, several times, every time we go. That a song can so perfectly match the event experience never ceases to amaze me. You’ll know it’s motivational and hopeful, ‘watch me rise up and leave, all the ashes you made out of me’, and my goodness it needs to be as watching Reading play is not an easy watch! So many near goals, close encounters, too often ‘outplayed’ despite their best efforts.

In this particular game, we went from utter elation when Reading scored a much-needed goal to equalise in the second half to total despondency, literally two minutes later, when they conceded a second goal putting them on the back foot again before going on to lose by more…as with life, it’s not for the faint-hearted. This song acknowledges the bitterness in these disappointments whilst reassuring us ‘life goes on’ and that there’s always time to start again.

Game of life

One 90-minute football game can indeed represent everything about the highs and lows of any life and how hard work, practice, skills, mental strength and physical strength blend as much with luck, chance and opportunity in any outcome.

So many analogies with the world of football work in sync with the world of business – the roles we play, finding and fitting the right people into a team combined with trying to balance personalities, dynamics, ambitions, with teamwork across roles, performance individually and together, execution of tactics, belief in the vision, dedication and determination to pursue the vision through good times and bad, winning strategies, manager belief, coaching and leadership.

My husband, Chris Jones, is a Caversham AFC coach for the U11s, I asked him if he can spot these life skills developing in the kids at this early age:

Most definitely. The FA teach us to focus on four characteristics when developing players; physical, psychological, tactical and social. This applies at grassroots U6s right through to the senior England squad. What’s interesting is I see many players in the U11s excel in one or two areas, but few have nailed them all. The FA are right though, helping the kids achieve a better balance will hopefully set them up for success outside of football as well as in the game.

We are the Royals

In football, along with all other major sports, marketing is omnipresent, including:

  • Physical stadium branding
  • Brand loyalty (like no other) from the fans, fan clubs and season ticket holders
  • Branded merchandise
  • Season kit design
  • Club sponsorship and business brand advertising
  • Match events
  • Club website
  • Social media and regional / national news coverage
  • Client hospitality with tickets and hospitality boxes

Marketing football is about marketing dreams and desires, a winning aspiration that is background agnostic and instead about belonging to a community with a shared and unshakable passion and belief system.

This first game of the new season was a nail biter, thankfully Reading has won a home game since then…come on URZZZZZZ!

Song credit: Embrace. Watch the music video here.

Images copyright: Becky Jones, Madjeski Stadium, Reading.